tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 22, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. charlie: mandy patinkin is here. he is an emmy and tony award-winning actor. you knew that. barrinson inaul the hit series, "homeland." >> i am not done. i guarantee you not one thing about your life from this moment forward will be easy. i will personally see to that. you tried to have kerry killed. >> nonsense. >> she was your friend. >> you were my friend. more than that.
>> those butchered agents in cairo. wasn't it?urs too, charlie: the show has become a prescient commentary on our times. mandy patinkin traveled to greece to assist refugees arriving from syria. i am pleased to welcome back to this table. welcome, sir. about "homeland," but tell me about greece. why did you decide to go there? mandy: i wanted to go there, but my schedule would not allow it. literally we wrapped the season , on friday night and i was on , the first plane to greece in the morning. charlie: why? -- in the show homeland, it is in a fictional world, a fictional hell, a mirror of the world we are living in, and i needed to
connect with the real world. this was as real as i knew was happening anywhere on the planet, and i wanted to help. i wanted to be with families and walk with them do whatever i , could for them. hold some children. just help them along in their journey. because i knew immediately when i saw what was happening that these numbers would take place , such vast numbers and that , this was my family, these are our families. 70 years ago, 100 years ago, fleeing russian pogroms, nazi germany, it's us. it's you. it's me. it's every american. charlie: there is marco rubio for one who says 991,000 of them are people who have engaged their own fear and come because of intolerable circumstances where they were, but just one of them might not be that. they may be someone who is
trained and radicalized to kill americans. mandy: not a single refugee has committed a murder in america since 9/11. many homegrown americans have become terrorists through the internet. so it has not yet happened. can it happen? sure. charlie: paris -- one of the people who came in as a refugee -- came through greece as a refugee. mandy: i have heard that passport was not authentic. charlie: you say yes, that may be a possibility, but that is not who we are. we have to find another way to stop that, we have to open our arms because that is how we began. that is what the statue of liberty has always stood for. we welcome you to our country.
mandy: if i am a doctor, charlie, and if i prescribed medicine one day, if i have a , good career, i will prescribe aspirin to someone. someone might die from aspirin. am i not to prescribe any medication to anyone who comes to my door for fear that what i do could one day kill them? this is just insane thinking. marcoe in a country -- rubio, i have seen him i saw , marco rubio on your show. he walks in and says the guns aren't the problem. these people would get the guns anyway. the guns are a problem. i think 2.4 million incidents of people having guns that shouldn't have them, mentally ill people, sexual abusers, would be terrorists, have been stopped in the past 20 years. but now, because the world has changed, you can buy a gun at a gun show without a background check. there is a video of jihadi joe that the brady campaign sent me. he says go to the gun shows,
please. go out there, go to begun shows, -- the gun shows, you don't need a background check. buy these guns now. what are you waiting for? but marco rubio isn't trying to do anything about stopping the gun situation in america. and by the way, the brady campaign and everyone else is being very clear. they are not against healthy, law-abiding citizens owning guns. charlie: what has this propelled you to do, other than to alert america to the passion that you have found in that exposure? mandy: i went to elizabeth, new jersey, last thursday with my wife and two people from the international rescue committee. i met a syrian family, the man was a lawyer. they have a daughter on the asperger spectrum. assad came sod --
through their home. another bomb came in a few months later and it blew their daughter to the other room. so the father took them, put them in a van, and drove them to turkey. 5.5 hours-six hours to turkey. they were in a detention center for two and a half years. because of the daughters problems, they could not handle her and said we are going to take her to norway. but the place with the schools and care was the united states of america. so the family was brought to new jersey, which has some of the best care for refugees in the country. we spent the day with this family. they were wonderful. my wife and i went through the whole house. we have four huge boxes of clothing, shoes, coats, everything we are giving to this family. we are sending another round of clothing and shoes to another family that i met in greece that i talked to everyday on
whatsapp. i encourage everyone of my fellow citizens to seek out one of the 24 or 26 -- forgive me, i am not sure what the exact number is of international refugee stations around america and find out where syrian refugees have been brought to in your community. welcome them to your home. have them over for a holiday dinner. go through your clothes and shoes and things that you need, show them your neighborhood. bring them to your mosque, your synagogue, your church. the new paradigm for me is stop , helping isis recruit young men and women from all over the world. how? change their marginalized lives into wonderful lives. all over our country and every country -- give them education, opportunity, jobs, medical, agricultural, homes. give them everything that we
have and want for our children, and give them to our children in this country. take care of everybody. the amount of money, $1.6 trillion spent on the war effort. take a fraction of that them put -- and put that towards humanitarian effort. if you do that for these people all over the world, people in these beautiful muslim communities, beautiful children and families, and you take care , of their children, palestinian families who need help and care, people will stop being so victimized. they will say -- they want desperately to have freedom, justice, and dignity, as i have said before. we all do. and we can help them have it. charlie: this is not a new idea, as you know. mandy: no sir, but who is doing it? charlie: my question is why. we understand that people are driven to terrorism, or radicalization for a variety of reasons, including feeling that
life has left them out. looking for a place where they can find people, causes, purpose, all of that. and education would play a role in having them see there is a better place to be. my question is why haven't we done that? it has been understood that we need to do more. mandy: i think part of the reason is people are addicted to a class system. i think they want lower classes so that they feel more powerful, so they can exercise their greed. i think that happens all over the world. i think there are economic reasons. i think war makes more money than peace. it's big business. you make a lot more money selling billions of dollars of weapons and ships and guns. charlie: so, you are the president of the united states and you have just witnessed paris, you go to the site of
those crimes, and then you get a call from someone saying we have a terrible thing happen in san bernardino. then you realize these were two people who were radicalized several years ago. americansou witness beginning to say, it could happen in my school, in my neighborhood -- and it is all coming from isis. what does the president do? does he try to do both sides? does he say, we will take the fight to isis, but at the same time, we want to fight them in the world of ideas and finding a better alternative. mandy: i believe it is called the international criminal court system, which the united states does not participate. i would not assassinate the head of isis nor adolph hitler. i would put them in jail for the
rest of their lives to protect the rest of the world. i think killing breeds more killing. i don't think that is the un--- answer. do unto others as you would have them do unto you. --rlie: ok, but suppose you if the president have a sighting for a drone attack with significant -- no significant collateral damage, if they had him in sight, he would kill him. mandy: absolutely. saul would, but mandy wouldn't. charlie: what does that mean? mandy: if he had a button in his hand, and he had -- he was going to hurt a human being with it, i would kill him. charlie: he does have a button in his hand. mandy: you're right. so i would kill him. i am being contradictory. i am a human being. it is contradictions all over the place.
i am not saying to be a fool. do let your guard down. any country, anywhere in the world. i want every security agency to work harder than they are working now to ensure our security and the security of every individual all over the world. i know people will slip through the cracks, but i am not seeing the other side being taken care of. what i am referring to is opportunity for these men and women in neighborhoods where there are muslim communities where they have no quality life. i am not seeing any funds, effort, in any way to make their lives better. charlie: i agree with you, a lot of people in the military agree with you. robert gates has said we are not -- mandy: it'sr a failure of imagination. my wife has an expression, hurt people, hurt people.
i am so upset with people who are not exercising their intellect as much as they are exercising their emotions. look at me. i get nuts because i am an emotional human being. we all are. but i must exercise my intellect. i must say to myself how many , refugees have committed a terrorist act in america since 9/11, i do the research and the answer is, zero, almost none. let me say one other thing about what to do. it's about how to think, how to be, where to put your heart. ted cruz, running for president. he loves a movie that i was privileged to be a part of called "the princess bride." it's a family movie. it has caught on over generations.
generation after generation. and when he does interviews like this, or group interviews, or makes speeches, he quotes lines from this wonderful movie that william goldman wrote. he quotes my lines, billy crystal's lines, robert wright -- robin wright's lines, everyone's. a friend of mine sent me a picture of me with ted cruz's face superimposed on my face. someone said, what do you think? i have to approve every glass, mug, or t-shirt that has my image, but he is allowed to use my body, or someone is without me approving of this. so, what do i think? when paris happened, ted cruz says we need to go on a war footing. we need a war president in this country. that's how he campaigns, to be elected to be president of the united states of america, the most powerful force in the free world.
i want to protect everyone in the world. i believe the way to protect them is to stop the killing universally present instead of killing, -- universally. instead of killing, create better ways of living and existing, freedom, justice, dignity, quality of life to humanity all over the world. stop spending $1.6 trillion on bombs. i say to ted cruz, if you quote all these lines from "the princess bride," why do you leave one line out? it happened to be aligned my character said, when i was a 26-year-old man, or however -- it was like 302i think when i made the movie. i didn't realize that i was saying. i didn't pay attention until i was 55 or so. then i heard the line. it's my favorite line that william goldman wrote. i asked him to look at it, deeply consider it, learn it, quote it. the line is, "i have been in the revenge business for so long, now that it's over, i don't know what to do with the rest of my life."
bill goldmanhank for writing that. i would encourage senator cruz to say those lines from the movie he loves so much. charlie: let's talk about "homeland." tell me about the evolution of saul berenson. over the course of the series. we just saw a scene from a very recent episode, there are only two left. in which you lost control. and it was about his humanity. it was about friends who had been killed. it was about the trail -- betra yal. it was about a whole range of things. lvedhas he even old -- evo
since you first created the character? mandy: you know, he and i are related, and he has taught me to be more hopeful and more optimistic in my life. he has taught me to go to greece and hold these families in my arms. berenson taught you-- mandy: saul berenson taught me that because of the necessary things one needs to do to keep america safe, use some drones sometimes. but how do you balance it? you find a way to feed your soul and your moral heart by taking care of human beings whenever you can. he is a bit naive, like mandy at times, in his hope and optimism. he is a tough guy, and he will do whatever it takes to keep the world safe, but he sometimes trusts people that he may be shouldn't be so trustful of.
he is in great pain and suffering most of the time over the condition of the world, and he would love -- my friend larry norton, who is a dear friend, our kids went to kindergarten together. so we have grown up together. i remember larry years ago said i believe i can cure cancer in , my lifetime. at some point the last person will walk through the door who has this cancer. no one else will ever come in. and i know larry to this day is living with the believe in the hope that before he checks out, he will stop all cancers. he will hold that. charlie: i believe that someone will. mandy: i believe someone will to o. saul berenson believes that this kind of inhumanity toward man will one day stop.
you could say to me, mandy, that's naive, it has never stopped from the beginning of time. so i am supposed to stop hoping for it? lori nathan, who is a war mediator. at the end of season four when saul berenson was captured by a terrorist, played by an actor who is a beautiful human being, but at the end of it, saul berenson was going to be traded, as it happened here, for four or five known terrorists who would go out and do more harm. he would rather take his own life. kill me before you let someone else go out there and heard someone else. -- hurt someone else. he had certainly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. i woke up, just as we finished shooting and i wrote this one and a half page feeling that saul had about where he was
it at. was very dark. very angry. very revengeful. the polar opposite of what i had been saying. he wanted to annihilate all of these people who have been doing harm, but also including people like dick cheney, donald rumsfeld, not just known terrorists, but people who don't do good. and i read it to lori nathan at dinner. i said to him, i just met him. my wife took me to this dinner. i didn't want to go. i was ready to leave, and then this conversation started -- i will back up a little bit to the conversation at the dinner the day before. he was talking about the middle east, and he said, i don't think there is going to be peace in my lifetime. i said really. or our children's lifetime. i said really. , it was right when the gaza war was happening. it was a horrible time. and every day i was looking at window, itd from my
was where mandela lived for all those years. i said lori, are we all fools, who work for peace, who work for these organizations? like jewish voices for peace and peace now, all of these organizations that try to make peace in the middle east and all over the world, are we fools? he said absolutely not. he said it's imperative that every organization continues that effort toward peace because when the opportunity comes, the window cracks open for a mere second, and if you are not ready, like in this country. no one expected mandela to get out of prison let alone become president. but the world's pressure, the world's sanctions and attention toward this difficult situation of apartheid, and then mandela was brought out of prison and for 25 years the world changed. it has slipped back now. it changed. charlie: they both got a nobel prize. mandy: he said you must continue these efforts and these works.
family who -- i have think i'm naive and it's a shame that i talk about this. to make the palestinians lives better? to give them opportunities in schools, why? they are killing us, say some of my relatives. and i feel for my relatives because they are frightened. they are very frightened. but let me tell you what has happened to saul berenson in terms of fear. because mandy and saul, together have lived in the real world. but i live in a fictional version. i read these lines all day long, and i am old, so i have to read them a hundred million times to learn them. and then i shoot this dark tale that we are all living in the real world. and then i leave work and i go and i watch your show, and i read the newspaper, and it's more of what i have been doing at work. and do you know what has happened to me? i am not afraid. and you say, what do you mean
you're not afraid? you are not afraid of a terrorist coming into your home or a movie theater? i am truly not. i will go anywhere and everywhere, and i will never stop. why? because i think i have been desensitized to it in a positive way. i think possibly the only thing that will happen from all this fear is that eventually we will. -- we will stop being so afraid. we will get on with living. this very short life we have to live. saul is not afraid, and neither is mandy. i am afraid of other things, but not terrorists. i am afraid of people not being morally, ethical human beings. charlie: that we will not let the better angels of our souls -- mandy: the better angels. i am working on a musical about an immigrant story and the last song is about the better angels. beautiful that you said that.
please, everyone listening, call the international rescue committee. go visit a syrian family. you won't be afraid. when you meet this, when you read about it, and you hear these shows, even shows that make you frightened go look at , the real thing. you can do it in your neighborhood, your country, your village. you will feel differently. i went to el salvador and nicaragua during the war. we took testimony from people who had watched their families being killed and dismembered in front of them. these congressmen and senators, it broke their heart, and it changed their vote. charlie: what does saul see in his figurative child. mandy: he met her at yale and
believed this was the human being who had a sensitivity to human nature greater than his own. you have the ability and the savant like qualities to figure out new paradigms to solve failed paradigms. and that knowing that he will not get to be here forever, and knowing that the world is getting more and more troubled, and is on fire all over that his best shot for healing humanity worldwide is that child. you can say but she does this, she is called the drone queen and this and that, but he believes she is the best thing going for humanity. charlie: does he believe she has better skills than he does? mandy: yes, just like i believe both my sons have better skills than i do.
i just don't believe that, i know they do. charlie: what do you see him as? mandy: her father figure and mentor, whether she likes it or not. she had her own dad. mandy: if kerry matheson was said, id kerry matheson don't see you as my father, i would wait until she left the room and say, she does see me as her father. she needs to say what she needs to say. we are father daughter. it's the who is the student, who is the teacher, who is the parent, who is the child? i have -- i have learned, saul has taught me to be quieter. you see how crazy i get. saul doesn't get that way. charlie: we just saw him lose it. mandy: one time in five years. one time in five years when a lover had betrayed him and
jeopardized the whole western world. charlie: did the fact that she was the lover make it harder for him? mandy: yes. trust. charlie: and terrible judgment. mandy: i am in my naked, raw humanity. you fooled me. you lied to me. you tricked me. you used me. you destroyed human beings. you try to get my child. friends of mine, you killed. there are people -- how do i do this? because i don't live on a fictional paper. i infuse things that happen in the real world all around me, real things, real people, real name and some that i imagined, , that i use everything really -- real in my mind. you don't hear or see it. it wears me out. charlie: is it fair to say that mandy, as much as humanly possible, wants to live his life to the fullest? he wants to make sure he is as open and accessible to everything that is important?
-- that he thinks is important westmark and that is what the refugee trip was about? that is who you are. mandy: yes. mandy: i don't want to waste my time on this planet. i want to do good for humanity. i really do. it's the most selfish act i can do because it is the thing that makes me feel best. to do something for others. i was a very selfish person for most of my life as a young person, wanting to get ahead, wanting to be successful. charlie: ambition. mandy: ambition. and i still like to do good work, i love it. but i have learned that the real gifts come from helping others, being there for others, my children, my wife, my fellow citizens of the world. and i have become less afraid. you can bet your whatever you want to call it that there are all kinds of people out there and they want to say, you know, he is a bad guy. mandy is a bad guy because he says this or that. i am not afraid of them anymore.
you can say anything to me. charlie: you have learned to listen. mandy: saul has taught me that and "homeland" has taught me that. thank you. god, i hope you are right, even if just a little more than i had before. i have often wondered when "homeland" began why it was such , a success. i believed it was because of how we listened to people or how we are not listening. when we are listening or when we are not listening about what we are living. so, we get to watch this mirror of our own existence and see what works and what is not working. usually what is not working means loss of life and what is working means possibility. charlie: i give this credit where it belongs, to my friend tom brokaw, who said it's a mistake not to go.
it is a mistake not to go. meaning, it's a mistake not to go to greece. it's a mistake not to give full expression to your own openness to the world around you, and don't seek the quiet, uneventful place where you can live within your own accomplishments and your own material gains. go where there is the challenge, the test, and learning, and listening. mandy: absolutely. and be grateful for the risk of life. if you do not wake up and take a risk every day it's not worth , waking up. being afraid, having darkness is an equal part to joy. you do not know what joy is unless you know what it is not. you do not appreciate the corny things -- you do not get the
rainbows without the rain. it's an equal part of life to be frightened and scared, but it mustn't override the good possibilities that exist in all of our lives. charlie: has saul berenson as a character had a greater impact on you than any other character you have played? or maybe because it came to you at a time that you had a different place in your life? mandy: i would say the character i feel has had the greatest impact on me, i think -- well, it was george in sunday in the park with george. james lapine and stephen sondheim wrote words repeatedly repeated in the piece by my character, connect, george, connect. what we have been talking about is connecting. connecting to humanity, to
children, to this living part of this world. that is what that artist tried to do. i want to be with everyone who is terrified and i want to sit , with them as long as it takes until they are not afraid to go to the movie or the mall, not afraid to get on the airplane. charlie: you showed me the film. we will look at it now. and you said -- you asked those people, are you fearful? and they said -- mandy: no, we are not afraid of anything. they had just told me how the father had beaten isis, knocked him down. mom had her two boys taken, 10 and five. they were taken by a smaller -- mugler -- smugggler.
the children couldn't talk. they had to go through the woods and they escaped. they had to go on this journey, and after they told me this journey i said are you afraid of anything? they said absolutely nothing. charlie: i need you to narrate this clip. roll tape. what am i seeing? mandy: these are people i just met. you will see it a little bit backwards. i put this in front. this is the third day i was there. no boats had arrived. here is the boat those folks had just gotten off of. i am a couple of blocks away. i am running down the street, coming there, and you will see me in a moment. these boats holds 23-24 people, charlie: they are coming from where? mandy: coming from turkey. this is a further point. normally, a six mile trip should take an hour and a half. this took two and a half hours. charlie: they are setting foot on -- mandy: on greek soil.
and now they are free. this man hands me his child, his little girl, and i take his daughter. someone else handed me their son. not that boy, but the next. i got these two kids and then i waited to come here, and i was helping. i was so grateful i was helping. right after it, the little girl in the pink jacket had a facemask on. i took the facemask, she was not moving, and i thought she had died. i was terrified. but my mouth said she is sleeping. i remember my heart was thinking she is gone and my mouth said she is sleeping. i love that there was some optimism coming out of me in shock. anyway, the family got out. the child was fine. she had epilepsy. the international rescue committee took her in an ambulance to a hospital. she had medication. they reunited the family and they went on their way. it's another wonderful tale. charlie: and you are glad you went.
mandy: charlie, i am really glad i went. i just wanted to help anyway i could. and then i came back here at this moment when fear because of paris and all over the world has just exploded. things are coming out of donald trump's mouth, this fear mongering, and all of a sudden i am this small part of telling people, wait a minute. wait a minute. i was just there. i was with these people, the syrian refugees, these afghan people. they are beautiful. they are like my children. charlie: don't be afraid of them. mandy: please, don't be afraid of them. reach out to them. if you don't believe me, call the international rescue committee. they are in your community. go see them. reach out. it will change your life. it will change someone else's life. the cycle of fear will stop and the cycle of peace can begin. all of these religions talk about love. let's do it. coming myhank you for friends.
when you're on hold, your business is on hold. that's why comcast business doesn't leave you there. when you call, a small business expert will answer you in about 30 seconds. no annoying hold music. just a real person, real fast. whenever you need them. so your business can get back to business. sounds like my ride's ready. don't get stuck on hold. reach an expert fast. comcast business. built for business. charlie: serene jones is here. she is the president, and the first woman to leave the union
theological seminary in new york city. it is the largest organization of theological scholars in the united states. she previously taught theology at yale divinity. next year, she will be president of the american academy of religion. i am pleased to have her at this table for the first time. welcome. serene: thank you. charlie: let's talk about the union theological center first. it is historic. serene: it is the oldest and perhaps most globally significant independent seminary in the united states. the legacy it has from its inception it was founded by a , group of pastors from new haven and princeton who had the realization in the 1830's that if you want to teach people to preach and serve humanity, you cannot do it in the quiet of the countryside surrounded by elites. they set up a tent on the docks of new york. they started doing education.
since its inception, that has been our identity and we have , been good at educating leaders who speak out on public issues. charlie: some famous people -- serene: dietrich mohn offer who made the decision to speak out against hitler and was killed . just as the war was ending because of his stance that grew out of the state. , powerful vision of what it means to live with courage. ryan holt niebuhr i think of him , often in these, what i consider dark days. he had this view of christian realism that people of faith should not be afraid of moral complexity. also a very sophisticated understanding -- charlie: and should not seek simple answers. serene: there are no simple answers. charlie: who else? serene: more recently, it is focused on black theology, feminists cohen,
theology got its start their with beverly harrison. recently, we have taken a turn in our curriculum to interface -- interfaith, and have muslim and buddhist faculty. charlie: there are a lot of conversations about muslims today. in the political arena, the most loud conversation comes from donald trump. you have been tweeting about that. tell me how you see it from your own experience and position. serene: first of all, what trump has been saying as of late is a moral, it is frightening. i rarely pray, but when i pray i pray that it is not as fascist as it appears to be. what is more frightening are the crowds of people cheering him. this needs to give all of us pause. we need to think hard about what is happening in this nation that these words can be spoken and find an audience.
charlie: is that what troubles you about the times? serene: i see our nation in a state of moral collapse where the conditions created by economic crisis, the loss of the capacity to hope. the disintegration of a moral framework -- and this is across the board -- is creating levels of rage and despair that we see popping up in all directions. it's interconnected. charlie: how? serene: well, dare i say that the kind of rage expressed in the shooting at a planned parenthood in denver is not that different than the rage that drives someone to go online and identify with isis and begin to make that journey. that is the kind of analysis and complexity that we need as a nation to not be afraid to look at. what drives a person to participate in these actions of horrific violence? if we want to just call them crazy, that's fine.
i think there is a certain level of insanity there. but if you have a complex -- if you do not have a complex understanding of human nature you can't take into account how , poverty, how fear, how displacement, how the rage that comes with entitlement, these are all things that live inside of all of us as human beings but , we are living in a time of fanning the fires that create the outbursts. we make a mistake when we think, because isis claims to be islamic and many muslims say , they are not muslims, and if you dig beneath the surface, many of them have never opened the cover of the koran. but to ask muslim leaders in general to somehow weigh in specifically on this group of thugs that is growing in power as if somehow there is a religious identity there.
but this is where theological vocabulary and a depth of , thinking about the human condition becomes quite helpful, because you stop seeing these battles as in a simplistic moral framework, and you begin to understand the fear it's motivated by. this is why the kind of fear that would mobilize a man to shoot planned parenthood. the kind of fear that mobilized that couple in san bernardino. that's something about who we are as human beings that can get ignited. and cause us to stop seeing another human being as a human being, and do acts of outrageous violence against them. charlie: help me understand the connection between the deed and the mindset to do the deed. serene: i think that kind of mindset is developed in a worldview, and it can be
attributed to almost any religion, where the world becomes a simplistic story about good and evil. there are purely bad people on one side, and purely good people on the other. and the bad people represent such a threat to your existence ir annihilation is the only remedy. charlie: and that is what isis has done. or other radicalized religions. serene: christianity has done up -- it for years, centuries. charlie boy the best example -- serene: the crusades. i would also say the crowds cheering donald trump right now. charlie: who are they? what are they saying that reflects your sense of who they are? serene: i think to be able to cheer that kind of bigotry and hatred, first of all, you have to be very afraid. you have to see somehow that
your own life is threatened. you also have to see it as a kind of release of that anxiety. the world has gotten too complex ed, if i could just find a bad group of people and blame it on them its classical scapegoating. , there's a kind of relief that comes when you can demonize. charlie: what do you think of the pope? serene: i am not the kind of christian who believes that miracles happen, and i think he is a miracle. who could imagine that a man like this would step on to the world stage and speak with such prophetic power and clarity? charlie: and what is his message? you are a religious scholar. what is his message? serene: god tells us to love each other. that's it. our job is to go love each other. that is it. and if you don't, you're not following god.
charlie: where is christianity today? serene: it is in decline. in the united states, the numbers of people joining conurbations is going down. if you look at it globally south , america, asia, growing like wildfire. charlie: that is exactly where the gains are in the catholic church. not in traditional places. it is an latin america. -- in latin america. serene: and many of those communities would be unrecognizable to american white christians or african-american christians because it is a very different language, ritual, worldview, and it's a challenge. charlie: what brought you to divinity studies? serene: i grew up in a family with a father who was a theologian. charlie: that is a good start. serene: common lingo.
words i learned to speak -- i think ice could say it when i was two years old -- i think i could say it when i was two years old, was kierkegaard. , my father used to say to us when we would fight or come home with a bad grade, he would call us children of light and children of darkness. a rich intellectual religious environment. when it came time to choose my path, i wanted a path where i in politicalgage discourse as a citizen of a country and be active, but speak profoundly. charlie: what do you think of black lives matter? serene: my school has played a big role in mobilizing their protests. i went to ferguson for about two months last fall after the august killing of michael brown.
i was stunned by what i experienced in ferguson. it was life-changing for me. charlie: how so? serene: i -- i have always prided myself on being an open and progressive person, but to drive down the main drag of ferguson and see a town in the united states where buildings have been boarded up and burned out, where barbed wire has been put up, and then to come to the police station and see tanks and officers in gas masks holding guns, pointing into crowds of young people, it was shocking to me. to go to the place where michael brown lived and see that there was no public education in that
neighborhood. you just get a sense of the other despair and violence -- the violence experienced by the people in that community. it was like going to a war zone, and it's our own country. you say what is wrong with this picture? what is wrong with this picture? why are we still in a war in this country over race? charlie: what is your answer? serene: the answer, i think, is slavery. it lasted 200 years and it was a systemitized, state sanctioned, church supported, economically driven system of execution, and of torture, and of extracting labor from human bodies. 200 years, you do that to a group of people. you have to develop a psychology of the part of the white people who are doing this that involves enormous acts of denial just for
the system to continue. and it's that denial about what was involved in it. and the kind of unconscious processes in our own minds in this country that we have not begun to undo. we have not even claimed it as the horrific system that it was. we have not gone through anything like what germany went through after the second world war. and that was a war in a relatively short time frame. we are talking about 200 years of a state sanctioned war on black bodies in this country, legal torture. charlie: what is the answer? serene: we have to begin to face into that and we have to talk seriously about reparations. there should be no african-american child in this country that does not have access to the best education, free college education. there should be no black family who -- 40% of the black
community lost more than 60% of their net worth in the crash of 2008. this happens time and again. charlie: 40% of the black population lost over half of their net worth. serene: dramatically different than what happened in the white community. we need to address homeownership and issues of health care. rather than addressing issues we , have kind of walked away from them. charlie: is your mission in life to speak to power and to speak to address human needs and love, or is it to promote religion? serene: it would never be to promote religion? charlie: i didn't think so, but i was looking for a better way to express it. serene: it is about love. charlie: to train people in theology. serene: i believe in the message of love that it holds. i think some powerful form of
love that has to get broader cultural expression -- it's like we are sitting as a civilization on the cusp of a new understanding about love. we are not there, but we are all going down if we don't figure this out. charlie: meaning what? serene: collapsing. as a globe. as a world. charlie: i hope you will come back so that we can speak more. serene jones, is president, and the first woman to lead the union theological seminary in new york city. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
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